The other day a friend of mine had an experience with an autistic child. It caused a discussion of how far society should go to be considerate of people that have special needs. After all, we all have problems, but we can't all expect the world to make allowances for us. And there is a difference between having consideration and enabling. In my friend's case, his meal was ruined before he even got to take bite and there was no offer of compensation, but there was the statement to the effect that the child should be excused because he was autistic.
I realize that children with special needs take a lot of effort from the parents. To that end, should a parent take a child into a situation that they know is going to cause problems? For instance, if a child is noise sensitive, should the parent take the child to a loud carnival? It might be worth a shot if the parent has been working with the child to get them used to noises, but on the other hand the parent should not be shocked if people stare when the child has a meltdown.
As a parent, you might be over-protective and think that the rest of the world should be more considerate of you and your child. Are you being considerate of the people around you?
For instance, you might be next to an adult who is noise sensitive, but doesn't have autism. Your child might get upset and loud because he or she is light sensitive and you took them into a brightly lit store. Do you have a right to get upset when the noise sensitive adult is glaring at you? They didn't go into a situation that would normally be upsetting, but the screaming child made it so. You put your child in the situation, so you can't really expect the world to be accepting of the disruption.
Yes, people do need to be tolerant of each other. However, everyone has the right to not have their personal space violated or deal with unacceptable public behavior. If they behaved poorly, you probably wouldn't want to excuse them either.
I hear about parents being upset when people stare at their child who has special needs when the child is acting out. Yes, that would be frustrating and your first inclination is to let the person know that your child has special needs, thus his or her behavior. Maybe it's time for you to realize that every person on the planet has special needs and it may be you who isn't seeing them.
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Source: Personal Experience